The Myth of “Hook Up Culture” and why right wing assholes promulgate sexual shaming

Number of sex partners for unmarried respondents by age group: General Social Survey 2006-2012
Number of sex partners for unmarried respondents by age: 2006-2012 GSS

Number of sex partners for unmarried respondents by age: 2006-2012 GSS

The intertwebs are all aflutter about how WOMEN are fucking around for no reason. I suppose they must be all lesbians by the reckoning of the concerned citizens who don’t seem to think that men matter in this equation. However, I’d like to burst their bubble and suggest that, in fact, most women are having sex with men–and vice versa. Dipshit journalists have been happy to parrot the right wing “research” that suggests that women (it is always the women’s fault!) are now more likely to seek non-committal sexual relationships–particularly those slutty, uppity college women. Instead, of course, they should be finding them a good Princeton man to marry (if they can find one that isn’t a lustful cockmonster, which seems unlikely at Princeton). The myth of hooking up “culture” is a product both of the wistful clueless left (who wish that everyone was fucking everyone) and the prudish Christian right (who are horrified that anyone is fucking anyone). Low brow intellectuals on both sides are promoting the myth to try to “explain” various issues in life course development (as us scientists think of it…..).

Yet, reality is far less salacious….The vast majority of unmarried Americans under the age of 25 are either CELIBATE (16%)  or MONOGAMOUS (46%). Another 16% wound up having sex with two people in the last year, and under a quarter of them had sex with more than two people. That is hardly a “culture” of hooking up on anonymous sexual escapades.

What Christian conservative authors and activists at Princeton and elsewhere miss is that the sexual behavior of young adults has long conformed to this pattern—from the beginning of allowing women into Princeton, and before! At Universities, particularly ELITE universities, NOBODY is expected to get married while they are undergraduates. In fact, this has LONG been proscribed. The elite are expected to finish their eduction. Men are expected to get jobs, randy about, and get married when they are in their late 20s or early 30s. Women are expected to finish their degrees, locate themselves accordingly, and get married in their mid to late 20s. Undergraduate women are not at all thinking about marrying the BOYS they are in school with, and undergraduate “men” have no interest in establishing relationships with women who are going to wind up marrying their older brothers (or fathers….). Both men and women are looking into their future careers, which will likely involve further education—and a serious relationship will hinder and be hindered by educational opportunities. After completing education, occupational commitments would further undermine relationships—which is all the more reason to avoid them until one is settled into a career.

There is no such thing as hook up culture. Young adults are not getting laid very often, or by many people. Jerk off to something else. Reality doesn’t look like that. Young people are making their way in the world, and sex is a part of that, but, frankly, sex is subordinated to other important life issues. People don’t want to establish relationships which will not work out in the end, and often that means that they simply have less sex than they may desire. Sex is rarely free of the basic human desire for companionship, and while people who are not in a position to have a relationship may occasionally have sex, it is relatively rare, age specific, and harmless to their future goals—if not supportive of them.

3 Responses to “The Myth of “Hook Up Culture” and why right wing assholes promulgate sexual shaming”

  1. schmielt Says:

    Where is the 25-35 age group in your chart?

  2. sherkat Says:

    hmmm….I need to fix the age groups….I can’t remember which is which–but those should be in order—-duh.

  3. noufa Says:

    Thanks for acknowledging the clueless, wistful left’s role in this. Growing up in Berkeley, I encountered a LOT of that & little of the religious stuff. It was easy to dismiss the religious stuff. But when the lefties were verifying it? They pushed that fantasy just to piss off religious people. A lie is still a lie.

    And yeah, my view of sex was pretty warped as a kid. Not that I did anything I regret. It’s just that going to a party, thinking everybody there’s fucking except YOU is a great way to prevent good times.

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